Congratulations to Phi Alpha Theta Presenters

Over the winter break two senior history majors attended the 2018 Biennial Convention for Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, in the beautiful city of New Orleans. Both students, Alexa Potter and Adam Murphy, presented individual research projects. The students had the opportunity to share their respective projects on panels with fellow historians from across the country, gaining valuable feedback to improve their research. Alexa had this to say about the conference, “Presenting at a convention of this size was very valuable as an undergrad. I gained insight in the art of coherently presenting research in a way that captures the audience as well as challenges them. The Q&A portion provided very useful feedback on my paper along with future ideas to explore.”

Alexa presented a paper coming from her honors thesis titled “There Must be Something in the Water: The Industrial Pollution of the Naugatuck River, 1850-1930.” Adam, presented his paper which originated from his senior seminar, “A Professor’s Experience in Indonesia: Examining the Partnership Between University of Kentucky and Bogor Agricultural College 1957-1966.” He adds, “I received such valuable information from attending presentations of other historians. I attended presentations on a variety of topics including U.S-Congo diplomatic relations and Vietnam war protest music. Additionally, I attended a “how to” panel about growing successful student journals.”

In addition to attending academic panels, the students found time to appreciate local history of New Orleans, like the French Quarter, as well as trying local foods like the variety of seafood and ‘po’boys’. Alexa mentions, “The location of the convention in New Orleans provided a beautiful and historical backdrop to the four days of presentations.” Adam adds, “This experience has shown me the importance of recognizing student research and allowing them to partake in experiences like these. I would like to thank Eastern CT State University for the continued effort to make this a priority. I would encourage any student to take advantage of opportunities big and small to present their research.” Similarly, Alexa says, “I am honored to be a part of Phi Alpha Theta, and additionally, thankful to my advisors and Eastern for allowing me this opportunity.”

Adam Murphy and Alexa Potter, Phi Alpha Theta scholar-students

Bandits! Soon to be a movie

The Department of History is proud to present a book talk by Dr. Bradley Camp Davis on Wednesday, September 27, 3-4 pm, in the Connecticut Room of Gelsi-Young Hall. Dr. Davis will discuss his recently published book Imperial Bandits: Outlaws and Rebels in the China-Vietnam Borderlands (Washington University Press, 2017). Light refreshments will be served. The event is sponsored by the Department of History and the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Upcoming CREATE Conference

For those interested in seeing how Eastern majors illuminate the past, you have a rare opportunity to witness them in action. On Friday, April 15, the Eastern campus will be hosting the 2016 Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent (CREATE, in case you’re new to acronyms) conference. The History department will be represented by Emily Komornik (speaking on early American rebellion and religion), Talia Erris (turn-of-the-century feminism), Christopher Morris (the Red Scare), and Morgan Considine (terrorism).

For details, check out the CREATE website here.

History was Made

And made well. The Eastern contingent of the “Making History” conference returned on March 11.

In was has become an annual affair, the four chairs of History Departments at Western, Central, Eastern and Southern hosted the second annual CSU “Making History” Conference. This year the conference took place at CCSU. As last year, both faculty and students presented their research papers and posters. Eastern’s Department of History was well-represented. Professor Thomas Balcerski presented a paper “Beards, Bachelors, and Brides: The Surprisingly Spicy Politics of the Presidential Election of 1856.” Professor Joan Meznar presented a paper on “Religion and Abolition of Slavery in Brazil.” Students Jacqueline Ray and Bethany Marion prepared a poster on “Samson Occom’s Life and Legacy;” Carl Kraus presented on “Colonial Norwich: Slave Society or Society with Slaves?”; Sabreena Croeau spoke on “The Detrimental Effects of the U.S. – Saudi Arabian Alliance,” and Christopher J. Morris presented a paper “Got a Donkey in the Crosshairs: The Partisan Anticommunism of Senator Joseph McCarthy.” Students Alaina Torromeo and McKenzie Korte, whose papers on colonial slavery in Connecticut were also in the program, were unable to participate in the conference.

Student and faculty presenters (L-R): Jacqueline Ray, Dr. Anna Kirchmann, Dr. Joan Meznar, Sabreena Croteau, Bethany Marion, Christopher Morris, Carl Krauss, and Dr. Thomas Balcerski

Student and faculty presenters (L-R): Jacqueline Ray, Dr. Anna Kirchmann, Dr. Joan Meznar, Sabreena Croteau, Bethany Marion, Christopher Morris, Carl Krauss, and Dr. Thomas Balcerski

In addition to the presenters and the Department’s Chair Dr. Kirchmann, several of the students from the History Club attended the conference. While at the conference, the Eastern group was glad to run into two recent history alumni, Bethany Niebank and Jared Leitzel, who are now graduate students in Central’s public history program.

Dr. Kirchmann commented: “‘Making History’ brings together both faculty and students in our four departments and while facilitating the exchange of academic knowledge, it helps us to get to know each other better. This year’s conference was a great event, which allowed our students to experience first-hand a professional conference. All our presenters did a fantastic job and I was very proud of them.”

Eastern Attendees at the 2016 Making History conference

Eastern Attendees at the 2016 Making History conference. From L to R, back to front: Dr. Ania Kirchmann, Jacqueline Ray, Sabrina Bell, Dr. Joan Meznar, Sabreena Croteau, Chris Morris, Carl Krauss, Dr. Thomas Balcerski, History alum Jared Leitzel, Sara Dean, Bethany Marion, Alexa Potter, and History alum Bethany Niebanck.


The Looooong History of the Syrian migration crisis

On February 22, 2016, Dr. David Frye (History Department) presented a talk “Walling out the World: The Long History of Long Walls” as a part of the Ethnicity/Migration program for Spring 2016.

Dr. Frye argued that although the potential utility of long border walls is currently being fiercely debated in both Europe and North America, border walls are not a new idea.  States have been constructing long walls as a means of limiting unwanted immigration since at least the third millennium BC—some two thousand years before the first forerunners of China’s Great Wall.

David Frye on whether walls make good neighbors

David Frye illustrates whether tables make good neighbors

Dr. Frye’s presentation was based on the book manuscript on the same theme, which he has recently completed.

Making History, Again

It’s a never ending process. This year the Making History: A CSU History Conference will be held at Central Connecticut State University on March 11.

The submission deadline has passed, but half-a-dozen Eastern students will be presenting their research, along with one of our faculty members. So if you’re interested in seeing what “undergraduate research” really means, check it out. For a summary of last year’s presenters, click here.

For details, see the department chair, Dr. Kirchmann.

Dr. Balcerski takes over the airwaves

He’s starting with C-SPAN’s “Lectures in History,” where he’ll explain how friendships between congressmen shaped the U.S. political scene in the antebellum period.

So catch it on C-SPAN (I’m sure you already know the channel number by heart), Saturday, February 20th at 8:00 PM, and then again on C-SPAN 3 at midnight.

Details here.


Congratulations to Miles Wilkerson and Bethany Niebanck for presenting at Eastern’s student research conference this past weekend.

CREATE presenters Bethany Niebanck and Miles Wilkerson

Miles presented “Nunca Olvide: Reframing Historical Discourse on Cuban Exile Terrorism”, while Bethany presented “The Harp, the Stars, and the Dollar: Irish Immigrants and their Motivations for Fighting in the Union Army during the American Civil War.”